Guide to Playground Safety
A visit to the playground provides your child with physical exercise, allows them to develop their social skills, and encourages creative play. All around, these spaces are the perfect recipe for healthy fun! That said, it's important to keep playground safety in mind.
Each year, emergency departments in the United States treat more than 200,000 children under the age of 14 for playground-related injuries. More than 20,000 of these children are treated for traumatic brain injuries.
Let’s review some ways to help keep playtime healthy and fun!
Child Safety Store Guide to Playground Safety
Practice Active Supervision
Active supervision means focusing your attention exclusively on your children as they play. This requires that you keep your eyes and ears focused on the playground. To that end, eliminate potential distractions, such as phone calls and social media. Active supervisors should be aware of the entire environment in order to identify any possible dangers and prevent injuries. Then, anticipate any potential risks and attend to your child as needed.
Beware of the Weather
When it comes to playground safety, the weather greatly affects playtime. A study by the National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS) found that 67 percent of public playgrounds were exposed to full sunlight during the peak hours of 10am-2pm. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that children play in shaded areas when possible. This is to protect them from overexposure to UV radiation. As a precaution, sunscreen should always be used.
It is also important to recognize how the weather affects the playground’s equipment. Many surfaces, such as the ever-popular slide, are made with metal and plastic. Both of these materials retain heat from the sun and can burn a child’s skin in a matter of seconds. Alternately, extreme cold conditions can result in frostbite and hypothermia. We may just be entering Spring, but it's always smart to review our Summer Safety Tips and Winter Activity Guide. A lot of these tips still apply for playground safety!
Encourage Safe Use of Equipment
Part of active supervision is ensuring that your children are playing safely. Be sure that your child is using age-appropriate equipment. NPPS recommends that all play areas for children who are 6 months through 23 months old offer spaces in which children can explore through crawling, standing, and walking. Areas for children aged 2-5 years old can include smaller steps and crawl spaces, such as low platforms that provide access to ramps and ladders. School-aged children would bode well with climbing ropes and ladders, cooperative pieces, and open spaces for running and playing.
While we’re at it, make sure that the playground’s equipment is up to reasonable safety standards and that your child knows how to properly use them. For instance, while climbing can help to build strength and coordination, high platforms should have guardrails to prevent falls. When using a slide, children should know to always go down feet-first and make sure that the area at the bottom of the slide is clear. Finally, make sure that the area in front of and behind a swing is not blocked. Similarly, your child should know not to run in these areas when a swing is in use.
Additionally, if your child is riding a bike by the park, it wouldn't hurt to review our Guide to Bike and Helmet Safety.
A study by the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that 68 percent of deaths associated with playground equipment were due to strangulation. Many of these cases were due to swings, jump ropes and the drawstring on clothing getting tangled.
As long as children know how to behave around this equipment and a responsible adult is actively supervising them, your kids are sure to have a safe and fun experience!